Monarch caterpillars chomping away at their main food source the milkweed which is in very very short supply due to the drought. Milkweeds, that is, any Asclepias species, are the host plants to Monarch butterflies and the only plant on which they will lay eggs to continue their life cycle. Milkweed was planted in our community garden to help them out.
Each year thousands of vibrant orange and black Monarch Butterflies flock to Pismo Beach, seeking shelter from the freezing northern winters. From late October to February, the butterflies cluster in the limbs of a grove of Eucalyptus trees. The butterflies form dense clusters with each one hanging with its wing down over the one below it to form a shingle effect. This provides shelter from the rain and warmth for the group. The weight of the cluster help keeps it from whipping in the wind and dislodging the butterflies. This colony is one of the largest in the nation, hosting an average of 25,000 butterflies over the last five years.
As the sun hits their wings and they warm up they begin to open and take flight. Monarchs are unable to fly in weather 55 degrees or lower.
Male Monarch Butterfly
Male Monarch Butterfly (males have a black dot on their underwings) – Monarch Butterflies winter here on the Central Coast – in Pismo Beach, Morro Bay and Pacific Grove. They return every winter between Oct. and Feb. This is a special variety of Monarch Butterfly with a life span of about 6 months. The normal life span of a common Monarch is about 6 weeks. As always, click on the image to enlarge and enjoy even further.
Monarch Butterfly (male)
Our Friend ‘the Moth’. There are over 160,000 moth species. A family member is the ‘Butterfly’. Butterflies are a small group that arose from the Moth Family. Moths are frequently ‘farmed’. The most notable being the ‘silk’ moth for it’s….yep….Silk. :O)
The Crane Fly, I’ve always thought was some kind of mosquito or a mosquito catcher. After a closer look I was able to do some research and found he/she is a harmless fly. It was hanging on my exterior wall opposite my office window for almost 8 hours without moving an inch. As the sun was setting I thought I woould get a closer look and take a photo with my Macro Lens Raynox DCR-250, but it was getting too dark so I popped on my Canon Speedlight 430EX II and that did the trick! The speedlight is a wonderful tool that I highly recommend. With the proper lighting and a macro lens we are able to see so much more than we can with the naked human eye alone.
Now for you to meet Mr. Crane Fly. He has the largest eyes set away from his head which is pretty large itself. As always, click to enlarge the image and enjoy even further.
Crane Fly – Macro. Without the lighting and macro lens this guy looks pretty dull from a distance. I had no idea how colorful he was until I saw the photo on my computer screen. Amazing!
Crane Fly Close Up of Head. I increased the ‘detail’ on this shot in Adobe Lightroom to get a glimpse of the little hairs on his head and legs. You will need to click to enlarge the image to see what I mean.